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When Churches Put Love at the Center

How "beloved community" helps us envision tangible ways to embody kingdom values.
When Churches Put Love at the Center
Image: Illustration by Duncan Robertson

“Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. … No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” (1 John 4:7-8, 12)

When I began pursuing pastoral ministry, I was full of optimism. I expected that much of my work would be proclaiming the gospel, providing pastoral care, and shepherding people toward lives that followed Jesus and reflected the love of God. In talking with other pastors, I know I’m not alone in that initial optimism. I knew that pastoring wouldn’t always be smooth sailing, but because my first career had been in social work, I felt prepared for the challenge.

What I hadn’t imagined was that for many people, church has become merely a place they attend once a week to hear an inspiring message that doesn’t feel connected to the rest of their life, school, ...

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